Brogan Sharp - Cheshire’s amazing make-up artist
- Credit: not Archant
A young woman from Cheadle is delighted to have the job she dreamed of, creating amazing make up effects for films, words by Paul Mackenzie
It’s Michael Jackson’s fault that Brogan Sharp is not the ideal person to watch a film with. Ever since she saw the video for his song Thriller she has been fascinated by the make up techniques used to transform people for film and television.
‘It’s probably quite annoying for the people I’m with but once you know how it’s done, you start to pick holes in the prosthetic make up you see on television and in films,’ said the 20-year-old from Cheadle.
‘I have wanted to work in this field since I was about six years old. When I saw the Thriller video I became obsessed with how they made him look different. I was constantly trying to get books or to go online and find out how they did it.’
Brogan now has a growing reputation in the industry and has already created all manner of prosthetic outfits for adverts, television programmes and films all over the world, including The Mummy which stars Tom Cruise.
‘I didn’t actually work on him,’ she said. ‘I was responsible for background actors, but I did stand next to him on set. It was very interesting to watch him act. He does all his own stunts and it was really cool to watch. There’s no method acting with him – as soon as he wasn’t needed on set his assistant threw him his phone and would stand there texting, then he’d be called for and would throw his phone back and be straight back into it.
‘Being on set can be really intense, you could be there for 16 hours a day, watching the monitors to make sure everything is ok and doing touch ups where necessary.’
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After a media make up course at Stockport College she went to the Shaune Harrison Academy at Salford and added: ‘Shaune has worked in the industry for years and worked on so many films, so it was great to learn all I could from him.
‘He introduced me to some people and I started to get my name out there. Word of mouth is so important for someone new to the industry – that’s how I got the job on The Mummy.
‘It’s a hard industry to get into, you have to be really motivated and try to make yourself stand out from everyone else.’
And while work is intense when it comes, Brogan tries to make the best use of the periods in-between, honing her skills on a cast of Nefertiti’s head at home in Cheadle or transforming a friend into an alien.
‘I’m planning to turn her into a super-realistic but beautiful alien by changing her features, her cheek bones and brow bone,’ she said.
‘I might go a couple of months waiting for the phone to ring but at the moment I’ve got no ties and I’m living with my parents, so although it can be scary when you’re not working, I can manage to live like that. I might not want to still be doing that when I’m 50 though. It is nice to have some time off and do some of your own work.’
When the phone does ring it can mean the start of a hectic time – as we spoke she was preparing head out to a film set in Budapest – and she has no idea when she takes the call what weird creations will be required.
For an advert filmed in Miami, she had to spend five hours covering an actor’s entire body in hair to create the ape man the producer wanted.
‘When a production company get in touch they give you a brief for a project, you’ll read the script, they say what they want to be created and the time scale and if they have any designs. If they haven’t, I’ll do some designs and we’ll agree on what to do,’ she said.
‘Then the actor will come in for a live cast where we cover the head in a seaweed based material, leaving only the nostrils clear. That gives me a cast and I can work on that to create whatever is needed. Depending on how big or complex the job is, a piece can take anything up to six weeks.’
But once the cameras stop rolling Brogan faces a long wait before a film is released and she can interrupt the action to tell her family and friends how the effects were achieved.